Currently we are in a circular process which seems to occur every few years.
Like ebb and flow Boston seems to enjoy periods of peace followed by periods of violence followed by periods of peace. Little, if anything has changed since I was a young man in the 80’s and 90’s. Every time we have a surge of violence the response is the same. Prayers, Press Conferences, Television and Radio shows, Candlelight Vigils, meetings with the Mayor, the DA, the Governor, Community Meetings, City Council Hearings, etc, etc.
There always arises a myriad of voices from within and without the community who all have many suggestions on what should be done and who should do it. These voices are politicians, clergy, radio show hosts, newspaper columnists, non-profit organizers and community “activists”
If we apply a clear unbiased logical review of the past decades we can see that all of the currently used strategies to defeat crime, violence and drugs have failed miserably with equal fault shared by everyone involved. We can also see clearly that every Non-Profit organization, Community group, Church, Mosque and Governmental agencies have all failed miserably in successfully completing any of their stated goals or fulfilling any mission statements, while religious leaders have even failed to carry out the “will of God”.
None of us can call ourselves serious in combating crime, drugs and violence when in a small city and in even smaller communities of Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan we have churches both large mega churches and storefront churches on almost every corner and yet crack, heroin and young girls are all for sale on the very same block in close proximity to an average of 5 churches. We cannot call ourselves serious, when the Nation of Islam, nationally known for strength, courage, discipline and Nationalism has a prominent Mosque smack dab in the heart of the Black Community and a stone’s throw from teen prostitution on Blue Hill, Crack/Heroin Sales on Washington Street and general crime and shootings all through the Grove Hall Area.
We cannot call ourselves a serious when we have the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs and Community Groups from CDCs to Neighborhood organizations in the same areas that are infested with Drugs, Crime and suffering from lack of resources due to Poverty. We cannot consider ourselves serious when we have all these organizations with budgets, buildings and personnel who claim to care about the community and our youth who are dying, but yet these buildings are empty and closed, the budgets get spent on fancy letterhead and overhead and cushy staff salaries and the personnel of these organizations are unknown to the community.
The “Leaders” of the Black Community do a lot of podium pounding pontification, but if you ask the average young brother in the street they do not know and have never seen these “leaders” except on TV pounding podiums.
The older generation has called for young emerging leadership but at the same time has not supported any emerging leader who is outside of their thought box. We have perpetuated a generation gap in which the older adults seek to help the youth but do not speak the language of the youth and simultaneously refuse or are incapable of learning the youth’s language and habits. The growth and development of future leaders is also stifled by forcing them to conform to practices and procedures which time itself has proven ineffective. These future leaders are forced to conform by a well-constructed system of bullying which means you either go along with the program or you are ignored, marginalized, discredited and sometimes even slandered and sabotaged. There are “Leaders” who are proud to say “I have been doing this for 40yrs” but without tangible results to show the progress of your work statements like this should be an embarrassment rather than a source of pride. The older generation of leadership has shown itself time and time again as unwilling to change, unwilling to take on new ideas, unwilling to go out on a limb and worse of all unwilling to pass the baton.
Future leaders are expected to compete with the current structure, being asked by media and “leaders” alike “Well, what have you done.” This comparison is strategically unfair because with no budget, no office, no building, no staff an aspiring group has no infrastructure or means to manifest their ideas even if those ideas could save us all.
A Millionaire with a foolish idea can promote it to the world….
But a poor man with dream is kept outside the loop.
The Boston Metro Jan. 17 ran a story entitled “We aren’t unified; religious, political leaders say internal rift hinders fight against crime.”
In this story Eugene Rivers reportedly ‘got up and urged pastors from across Boston to forgo their egos and work together for the greater good of the neigborhoods’
Greg Davis from the Marcus Garvey House said “The churches are in conflict and our kids are still dying because we aren’t unified”
Rev. William Dickerson said of Mickey Roache’s handling of the Stuart Case “a Public Apology needs to be made”
The truth is someone like Mickey Roache will never issue a sincere apology for his handling of the Stuart Case because the Black Community is not respected nor are we organized or unified enough to pose a serious threat politically or to apply public pressure. This is proven over and over again by our Black elected officials who are unable to combat the white power structure for fear of being “locked out” politically and not being able to get anything done. Compromise and negotiation is the name of the game, but we bargain from a weakened position because we have nothing and they control everything. We must all take an aggressive stand against these white politicians who run the government that has so poorly treated us and only providing substandard services and conditions that we must then suffer through. Black Politicians, Clergy and Community “leaders” must stop fawning at Mayor Menino, Governor Romney, US Atty. Michael Sullivan and DA (former City Councillor) Dan Conley when we can clearly see that peopleticians like these are part and parcel to our problem.
The answer for our Community is not now and it has never been, more government. Cries of more police and more jails with the current “lock ‘em up” mentality espoused by the above mentioned Eugene Rivers after the Quadruple so-called “Hip-Hop” homicide on his street. Rivers, spoke out calling for the police and Courts to lock up more of our youth before even knowing all the facts and after never knowing the young victims.
Rivers has called this situation a tragedy, but I wonder have he ever even said Good Morning to any of those boys or reached out to show any interest at all in their life.
How can any of us as “leaders”, clergy, elected officials live in the Black Community and isolate ourselves from our own young people that we don’t speak to and wont help, but will “lock ‘em up” quicker than we will say ‘Hello’ We will condemn Hip-Hop and the style of dress and hair of our own children and join with White Politicians in initiatives to “lock ‘em up” but we will not lift a collective finger to help them.
Our children are undereducated, know nothing of their own History, are having sex (including oral) and getting pregnant earlier and earlier, many are foul mouthed and show little respect for others or themselves, many smoke cigarettes use drugs and drink, most are unemployed, many have been victims or perpetrators of violence, many are living in poverty and come from broken or single parent homes and many are abused physically and sexually at home, in school and church, many are targeted by Police and society in general for being thugs, unfairly stereotyped because of clothes and hair and therefore give in to the “I don’t give a f” attitude they display so proudly.
With all these issues facing our young people it saddens and angers me that we can join hands with white Mayor Menino and focus on some T-Shirts. We can condemn a young black business man and force him to cooperate or suffer sanctions like coding violations or be boycotted by do-good ministers who should be attending to other more important work.
Stop Snitching on a T-Shirt cannot be a serious issue of focus in a city where obviously crack cocaine and guns are being imported directly into and dispersed into our community. It is surreal to me to focus on Stop Snitching when I have heard of no rash of witness murders and intimidations. I have heard of the Boston Police killing only Black, Latino and Cape Verdean people and this happening only in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan, but no one wants to deal with that issue. Is there a “These Black People were killed by the BPD” T-Shirt? We do have many cases of instances where the citizens are reluctant to report on the Police for fear of retaliation or just the simple fact that it’s a waste of time because in Boston the BPD can shoot or murder our people and nothing is done, consistently in almost every instance.
So it would seem that while cases of Snitch intimidation in the Black Community may happen in small numbers and be hard to verify, we can take a poll in any part of the community to verify Police intimidation and brutality.
We have abandoned our children, failing to defend, help and guide them and at the same time criticizing and demonizing them publicly for their reactions to a situation that we put them in. The failures and shortcomings of our children are our failures and shortcomings.
There is a serious rift in all the factions of Boston and it has hindered all of us from making any progress. Boston is a very different type of city. Everyone feels it and some have verbalized things like “Boston has no nightlife for Black People” or people feel as though they have to move away to get ahead in life. There is a mindset prevalent in Boston which is very detrimental to forward motion. We can take any organization that we know to be strong nationally and look at those same organizations in Boston and you will see miserable participation and miserable results.
Organizations like the NAACP and the Urban League while having a strong national presence are just a shell of themselves in Boston with low memberships and few successful projects. The Nation of Islam has a strong presence and voice in many main US cities. The NOI has always been highly critical of White leaders, politicians and policy. In NY, Chicago, Philly, ATL and LA the Nation of Islam are the go-to people for the problems of Black People whether politically or socially, if a police shooting occurs you will see and hear the Nation, drug-infested neighborhoods will see and hear the Nation, while in Boston these things may happen but they take place to a much smaller degree and much more infrequently.
Ultimately it seems we all take a reactive stance, always reacting in the aftermath of a tragedy rather than being proactive and progressive to attack the problem at the root.
Most “leaders” have grown so defensive they cannot and will not accept any criticisms from the general public who is often dismissed as if their knowledge, energy and expertise is worthless. We must always subject ourselves to the critique of the people, none of us is beyond error or reproach and everyone can learn something from anyone.
The only organizations in Boston that do well, meaning have money and huge memberships is the churches. The Church is called to a different set of standards having clearly established a Biblical base which dictates that churches are to do the Will of God. The Bible says “to whom much is given much is required” and while the Black Church may have the most money and the most personnel, the most buildings and the most vehicles they are the least seen, the least active and the least to help.
Ministers are caught up in doctrines and rituals and set in the old way of doing things when the man they worship, Jesus Christ (Yeshua Ben Yosef) was the perfect example of Revolutionary Grass Roots Action. Jesus (Yeshua) healed the sick. He didn’t open a building and say this is where I am and you come to me to be healed. Jesus (Yeshua) went to the sick right where the sick were. Jesus (Yeshua) ministered to the outcasts and prostitutes; he did not turn a blind eye to the pain and suffering of the poor, particularly the children. Jesus would not have a church where drugs and sex are being sold only yards away and not have something to say about it and without helping the situation. Jesus (Yeshua) did not involve himself in politics and he certainly did not endorse candidates and negotiate and make deals. The Black church has a great potential to help our people in Boston but they must emerge from the 4 walls of the church and as the last commandment of Jesus (Yeshua) tells us, we must “Go forth and spread the Gospel (truth)”
The Black Church, which is in the best position to help our people has shown itself either unwilling or unable to help. The Community organizations who have declared themselves as helpers in various areas have all failed. Our conditions in housing/property ownership, employment/finances, health care and criminal justice are all deplorable. The Black elected officials, even though there are more Black elected officials in the US now than there has ever been at any time in the History of America, our people are suffering from the same ills since slavery ended and in many respects we were better off then. This is a clear indication that US politics, voting and the governmental system will never work for us, even if we are working from inside it because it was not designed to work for us. It was designed to oppress us and destroy us and it is in perfect working order.
We must be critical of each other in a constructive manner to rid ourselves of these negative and damaging ways of thinking that contribute to our further oppression. We must not befriend or negotiate with White Politicians who time and time again put policies in place that are detrimental to our people.
A year ago I wrote an article in the Metro entitled “Perfect time for a Police State in Boston” Since then Mayor Menino has put surveillance cameras in Roxbury, which went away right before the election and then after he won, days later he announced cameras are going up all over the city. Also during the election, Roxbury store owners reported being intimidated by Menino aides, when they didn’t agree to display Menino for Mayor posters or displayed his competitors ads. They were subjected to surprise coding inspections and strongly encouraged to display Menino posters. This story got buried before the election and weeks after Menino won, he was in a private Black entrepreneur’s place of business illegally removing T-Shirts that he didn’t like. Does this mean I can go in record stores and remove every CD that contains the words “Nigger” and “Bitch” can I rip down images of the fake White Jesus from Churches because I don’t like it? Can I take from the shelves of stores any sports gear that bears mascot like stereotypical images of peoples of color? Can I remove the public tax City funded Street Signs and plaques on Parks and Schools that bear the names of pedophilic and rapist slave owners?
And yet we will allow and even support Mayor Menino in his illegal confiscation of T-Shirts of all things which are not illegal and which cannot be corresponded to any illegal activity. Our Black Community is so frail and spineless we will even join the Mayor in the creation of a Start Snitching Tips line. I am against crime, but I know that a tips line will not stop any crime but it will serve as a means of revenge for vindictive people and ultimately the only thing it will lead to is more young black people in jail. Is there a tips line in Brookline, Newton, Weston, Wellseley, Cambridge? Do these communities not have drugs? Why are only we asked to turn neighbors on neighbors and why is the community expected to do the job of the police? The very same police that abuse and brutalize us and then lie about it, we are now working with these police who have never apologized for anything or taken any action against any officer who has even killed our people? This is our new ally in our renewed effort to save ourselves. The Black Community, Menino and the Police this is an alliance from Hell and a recipe for disaster for us. Why is there no Police Brutality tip line? Why no Kilo and Up tip line to stop the flow of drugs and not continue to arrest the nickel and dimers? Why no Major Guns tip line to stop the flow of guns in our community? Has anyone even did a survey to see if there are patterns in the manufacturers, makes and models of the guns that are taken off the street? For instance if 90% of captured guns are smith and Wesson, we may need to draw some conclusions and take some actions against manufacturers and gun dealers, not the teenager who bought the gun, he shouldn’t do 5-8 yrs. Our approach to crime and drugs does nothing except fulfill the ultimate goal of human warehousing, filling the jails and prisons with Black, Latino and Cape Verdean youth who never had anyone to advocate for them for things to get better. Our answer cannot be more police, more jails and more collusion with those who we know to be the devil and who have consistently shown that they do not have our best interests at heart.